The DVD of the original 219-minute cut of Michael Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate has been available for more than eight years, but even those who mostly despise the film (myself among them) will concede that seeing an allegedly “restored” print on a big screen in a first-rate house like Santa Monica’s Aero is definitely the preferred way to go. Kevin Thomas will introduce the 5.22 Aero screening, which will start at 7:30 pm.
History long ago noted that renowned critic F.X. Feeney is primarily responsible for recasting Heaven’s Gate as a film deserving of revisionist respect. I never bought into this but Feeney’s efforts in this regard are a reminder of what a genuiinely caring and impassioned film critic can do when he/she puts his/her mind to it. Or at least was capable of doing in the old days.
I hated Heaven’s Gate when I first saw it 17 and a half years ago, and I couldn’t stay with it when I tried it a second time at home about five years ago. I therefore feel it’s still worth quoting the famous quip from N.Y. Times critic Vincent Canby that Heaven’s Gate “fails so completely that you might suspect Mr. Cimino sold his soul to the Devil to obtain the success of The Deer Hunter, and the Devil has just come around to collect.”
I attended the second critics screening at the Cinema I on November 17th or 18th (one of those) and stood at the bottom of the down escalator as those who’d seen the afternoon show were leaving. I asked everyone I knew what they thought on a scale of 1 to 10. I’ll never forget the gray, deflated expression on the face of journalist Dan Yakir as he muttered “zero.”